Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama Taps 3 for Cabinet Positions President Charges His Second- Term Picks with 'Investing in American Energy and Creating Jobs and Economic Opportunity'

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Obama Taps 3 for Cabinet Positions President Charges His Second- Term Picks with 'Investing in American Energy and Creating Jobs and Economic Opportunity'

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama turned to experienced political hands Monday to fill his Cabinet, choosing a high-ranking Environmental Protection Agency official as the nation's top clean air and water watchdog, and a Clinton administration veteran as his energy secretary.

Gina McCarthy, now an assistant administrator in charge of air and radiation, would replace Lisa Jackson, the well-liked but controversial EPA leader in Mr. Obama's first term. The president tapped Ernest Moniz, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology physicist, to replace Steven Chu at the Department of Energy. Both must be confirmed by the Senate.

Mr. Obama, who held his first Cabinet meeting of his second term Monday, also announced a new budget director: Sylvia Mathews Burwell. He said his EPA and Energy Department picks will be charged with investing in American energy and creating jobs and economic opportunity, as well as "doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change."

"They are going to be a great team," Mr. Obama said. "And these are some of my top priorities going forward."

In his first term, the EPA implemented standards for mercury pollution, tightened rules on soot pollution and established tougher emissions standards for new power plants. It also set higher fuel- economy standards for automobiles, which the administration boasts will do more to reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions than any action taken by other nations.

Ms. McCarthy, who played a major role in developing the tougher fuel standards, earned praise from clean-air advocates for her work on air pollution. She is a former state environmental regulator who once worked for Mr. Obama's 2012 election opponent, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Environmental groups praised Ms. McCarthy's appointment. They wanted the EPA to be led by someone who would uphold the agency's authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, and they got that with Ms. McCarthy, said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. She "knows what it means to protect our air, water, land and health, and stand up to the growing threats we're seeing from climate change," Ms. Beinecke said.

But industry offered fainter praise, as did lawmakers from states where energy dominates the economy. American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said in a statement that he was concerned about pending regulations that could raise the price of gasoline, rules for greenhouse-gas emissions from refineries, and new ozone standards. "President Obama says his top priority is creating American jobs, and we will continue working with the EPA and the administration to help avoid jeopardizing that goal," he said. "The problem is that EPA, in many cases, is not proposing regulations that meet this goal. …

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